The Centralia Downtown Association’s Pine Street Plaza Place Activation project in 2021. Image courtesy of the Centralia Downtown Association.

There’s nothing we at Washington Main Street love more than celebrating downtown successes across the state, though supporting the work that makes those celebrations possible is a close second.

For the past couple years, our planning grants have been one avenue for doing just that. With funding from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and USDA, these planning grants are designed to build capacity for Washington Main Street Communities and Affiliates by offering funding for specialized planning services by professional planners with experience working with Main Street programs.

Hot on the heels of celebrating our 2022 grantees’ successes – like Stevenson Main Street’s beautiful and thoughtful strategic plan – we’re proud to award six Main Street programs with three kinds of focused planning grants for 2023.

90-Day Place Activation

We have seen a rise in place activation projects over the past two years, as the COVID-19 pandemic made outdoor spaces one of the only ways to gather as a community downtown. We are delighted to continue supporting such projects via our 90-Day Place Activation planning grant, which provides Main Streets with professional training from Terra Soma. Each grantee organization will engage in a series of workshops with Terra Soma, assemble a team, and work toward a 90-day plan to execute a place activation initiative of their choosing for their downtown district.

Our 90-Day Place Activation awardee is the Downtown Anacortes Alliance, which plans to activate the area surrounding their “Welcome to Historic Downtown Anacortes” gateway arch at 11th Street and Commercial Avenue

Market Study and Strategies

While Main Street organizations can often sense what their district may need, the Market Study and Strategies planning grant provides assistance from Downtown Professionals Network to help dig into downtown demographic, psychographic and retail sales gap data. Through design and review of customer and business surveys and facilitation of local planning sessions, the result is a cohesive and actionable plan based on qualitative and quantitative data.

Our Market Study and Strategies Awardees are the Downtown Everett Association, the Downtown Association of Yakima, and Vancouver’s Downtown Association.

Transformation Strategies

Critical to any organization’s success is a strong vision, which can be brought to life by a strong strategic plan. Our Transformation Strategies grantees work with BERK Consulting to identify key strategies for their district based on community input via surveys and focus groups and develop a community-minded strategic plan to guide their next 3-5 years.

Our Transformation Strategies grantees are the Cle Elum Downtown Association and Ridgefield Main Street.

We look forward to working with each of these organizations through their planning processes, and we can’t wait to celebrate the successes we know lie ahead.